Leadership in NGOs

… is it all that different than the for-profit sector?
(for french, same page and scroll down: Leadership au sein des ONG: est-ce different du secteur a but lucratif?).

Published on Entrepreneur.com, by Bruce Hardy, Spring 2007.

I worked in the NGO sector for over 30 years. I worked in small organizations with annual budgets under $250,000 and I worked for large organizations with budgets in excess of $17,000,000. I have done work with large American NGO’s with annual budgets in excess of $250,000,000. I have worked in social service organizations, health organizations and international service organizations. Over my career I have observed a steady evolution in the NGO sector. NGO’s are no longer found to be exclusively in the volunteer sector and you can no longer assume that they are only locally based. You can no longer assume small and you can no longer assume well intentioned at the cost of competency.

Today in Canada there are more than 72,000 registered charities delivering services locally, provincially and nationally. These organizations provide over 350,000 full time jobs as well as over 220,000 part time jobs. Total annual salaries exceed $13 billion dollars. This is a large and growing sector.

Given federal and provincial cutbacks over the past 10-12 years, many NGO’s had to evolve or die. Boards of directors were forced to accept the notion that not every agency could be expected to survive. NGO’s began to look at the world through a filter that was well known in the for-profit sector. This was a survival of the fittest scenario. In order to survive agencies looked at new ways to do their work. Trends included:

  • More collaboration with the for-profit sector;
  • More formalized and sophisticated fund raising;
  • More focus on the fiscal bottom line;
  • More diversity in services, service delivery and staffing;
  • Boards of directors looking more closely at organizational leadership

… (full text).

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